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Amphiboles crystallize into two crystal systems, monoclinic and orthorhombic.

In
chemical composition and general characteristics they are similar to the pyroxenes.
The chief differences from pyroxenes are that (i) amphiboles contain essential
hydroxyl (OH) or halogen (F, Cl) and (ii) the basic structure is a double chain of
tetrahedra (as opposed to the single chain structure of pyroxene). Most apparent,
in hand specimens, is that amphiboles form oblique cleavage planes (at around 120
degrees), whereas pyroxenes have cleavage angles of approximately 90 degrees.
Amphiboles are also specifically less dense than the corresponding pyroxenes. In
optical characteristics, many amphiboles are distinguished by their stronger
pleochroism and by the smaller angle of extinction (Z angle c) on the plane of
symmetry. Amphiboles are the primary constituent of amphibolites.
The name amphibole (Ancient Greek ?�f?�???? - amph�bolos meaning 'ambiguous') was
used by Ren� Just Ha�y to include tremolite, actinolite and hornblende. The group
was so named by Ha�y in allusion to the protean variety, in composition and
appearance, assumed by its minerals. This term has since been applied to the whole
group. Numerous sub-species and varieties are distinguished, the more important of
which are tabulated below in two series. The formulae of each will be seen to be
built on the general double-chain silicate formula RSi4O11.[3]

Four of the amphibole minerals are among the minerals commonly called asbestos.
These are: anthophyllite, riebeckite, cummingtonite/grunerite series, and
actinolite/tremolite series. The cummingtonite/grunerite series is often termed
amosite or brown asbestos; riebeckite is known as crocidolite or blue asbestos.
These are generally called amphibole asbestos.[4]